This weekend’s matches against St Edward’s, Liverpool were full of excitement with some very close and enthralling matches. Despite winning just one of the matches the Arnold boys could fill themselves unfortunate that they didn’t win at least two more but all of the matches were competitive and good to watch.
The 2ndXV lost by just 7-5 away in Liverpool. St Edward’s went ahead after a very strong first half performance but the Arnold boys regrouped at half time and came fighting back with the forwards playing some exceptional rugby. After a period of dominance for 20 minutes they finally broke through the good St Edward’s defence as the lively Alex Fowler darted over from close range for a good scrum half’s try. With minutes to go the Spartans had a chance to win the match but a difficult 45 metre penalty sailed wide and the home side held on for the closest of victories.
The U14 match at Arnold was equally as entertaining, if not higher scoring. Arnold’s double Lancashire contingent of Elliott Fackey and Will Nickson really displayed their class and the work-rate of Matthew Garrod all over the pitch was brilliant all morning. Arnold led at half time but St Edward’s fought back extremely well to take the match 31-21. Arnold’s first try came from the brilliance of Fackey who had the presence of mind to chip over the rushing defence and then collect his own kick before side-stepping the final defender for a stunning individual try under the posts. Alex Vowles-Bradley, who has been one of the players of the season, scored the second try as he hit a lovely angle to cruise in untouched from 22 metres and Arnold’s last try was once again made by Fackey who again chipped through. This time he was held back by the last defender as he was about to score and a penalty try was awarded.
The U15 match at Arnold was a quite stunning match with both sides playing some very impressive rugby in a superb spirit. St Edward’s looked dangerous with their centres and fullback displaying speed and skill whenever they touched the ball. The away side looked the better team for the first 10 minutes but the Arnold defence, especially in the forwards held firm. Arnold then took the lead against the run of play. A good driving maul saw Owen Burrows, having probably his best ever match in an Arnold shirt, breaking free. He was tackled well but with St Edward’s back pedalling Lancashire U15 squad player, Richard Whiteside, showed his class to suddenly snipe down the blind side from 40 metres out. He evaded two defenders before side-stepping the fullback for a fine individual try under the posts. 7-0.
St Edward’s roared back and they had scored within two minutes. Some sublime hands in the backs released their dangerous no.13 who beat 5 players from 70 metres as he sprinted clear to score in the corner. Suddenly the match was very open and within three minutes Arnold had extended their lead as Mitchell Bolus displayed great agility to dance through from 20 metres. Arnold now enjoyed most of the possession and territory and another try was scored by the brilliant Burrows after twenty minutes as Arnold now led by 17-5. With the half drawing to a close, Arnold found themselves camped on the St Edward’s line. Four times they drove over the line but each time they were held up or stopped short with the St Edward’s defence holding firm in superb fashion every time. However, from a fifth attempt it was skipper, Matthew Radley, playing his best rugby of the season to date, who eventually crashed over and Arnold led 24-5 at the break.
The second half did not have quite the scoring of the first half but as a spectacle it was tremendous as the St Edward’s boys threw the proverbial kitchen sink at the home side, running the ball from all areas, in an attempt to claw back the points. Their centres made break after break but some good last ditch tackles from Max Reid, Ned Whittle and Sam Walton kept them at bay. The St Edward’s defence also held firm as Whiteside, Ben Cheston, Charlie McLaine and Declan Humphries all made telling contributions to pin the Liverpool boys back. With the match very open, Arnold extended their lead as Whiteside broke down the right and put in an exceptional kick which Arnold claimed and Ben Cheston managed to touch down with just ten minutes left to play. St Edward’s did not let their heads go down and, with only five minutes left to play, launched two attacks from their own line and to score two fully deserved tries, with their no.13 showing real class and pace. The match finished 30-17 to Arnold and both captains, Matthew Radley and Joe Manley, deserve a special mention for the way in which they led their team.
The U13s took the lead away from home in another good match. Ellis Whorlton-Jones put Sam Royle through with a good switch to score under the posts and lead 7-0. St Edward’s then dominated in the forwards after this and despite the Arnold backs creating plenty and always looking threatening, they could not break through. James Elwood had another good match and Matthew Barrett and Rory Douglas were there usual aggressive and combative selves as the U13s lost 22-7.
A weakened 1stXV missing some key personnel to examinations lost by 27-5 away from home. James Aird scored the Arnold try and Ben Perkins and Ben Blake once again played extremely well in both defence and attack. The U12s lost 53-17 with Cameron Armour bagging two tries against talented opposition.